Dear readers, I know what you must be wondering. Has Mary dropped off the planet earth or answered the siren call of a straight jacket and a padded room? Where are the latest blog posts?
Let me put your minds at ease. I have been traveling like a maniac lately. The upside to this is that I've got a bag of wondrous news to report about the passenger experience. The downside is that I'm only just now getting down to the business of reporting it. So apologies, etc, etc, etc.
Those of you who have been following the debate over whether the USA should allow passengers to use their cell phones during flight know that I've long been a proponent of dropping the current ban and stopping regulators from imposing a permanent ban via the Hang-Up Act (I'm particularly proud of my guest blog for Harrisburg International Airport - "Ban snoring while you're at it.")
My stance on the subject has proven quite unpopular with even my closest peeps and tweeps, who cannot understand why a seemingly nice girl like me would support something as seemingly heinous as in-flight mobile connectivity (perhaps she's really crazy, they secretly wonder!)
So, you can imagine my excitement when I learned that in-flight mobile connectivity received a ringing endorsement this week from the crankiest of fliers - none other than Brett Snyder of Cranky Flier fame.
Clearly benefiting from some key conversations at the recent Airline Passenger Experience Association's annual conference and exhibition in Long Beach, Cranky makes lots of great points in his blog post about why US passengers shouldn't be afraid of the service, including:
1) Use of these devices in the air is increasing worldwide, and the US is quickly becoming the only place around to still want to keep their use banned.
2) The reality is that it hasn't been much of a problem at all so far, and that's probably due to the rate structure.
3) Everyone's worst nightmare is getting stuck next to the valley girl who giggles and screams with her friend on the other line throughout the flight. That's just not happening and it's not likely to happen. (If it does, her parents will never let her out of the house again.) Yes, I'm sure that at some point this will happen, but social pressure and flight attendant intervention can solve that problem (along with determined staring at close range).
Cranky's latter point is most astute. I once sat beside a valley girl on a train to New York. Sure enough, she was yapping on her cell like a pampered pup and - shock - screaming obscenities at (presumably) her man slave. I consider myself a generally chill person, but I must admit that after two hours of valley's yap, yap, yap, I was entertaining all kinds of torturous remedies. Instead, I verbalized my unhappiness and valley, bless, finally shut it up.
Many people underestimate the power of the proverbial hairy eyeball or verbal demand when it comes to stopping mobile phone abusers. But, it is unlikely we'll need to employ such measures on board an aircraft. Here's why - the flight attendants have complete control!
Emirates provides an excellent case study in how social concerns are handled in-flight. The carrier is in the process of fitting its entire fleet with in-flight mobile connectivity (AeroMobile is equipping the lion's share of Emirates' current fleet, while OnAir is slated to equip the carrier's A380s).
I managed to get my hands on AeroMobile's cabin crew guide and, lo, it is a revelation!
Here are two things you should know about Emirates' procedures for mobile connectivity:
1) Flight attendants must stress that mobiles should be set to silent mode at all times as a courtesy to other passengers.Here are a few pages taken directly from the pamphlet
2) The AeroMobile Control Panel can be used by flight attendants to manually enable/disable several AeroMobile features including incoming and outgoing calls.
Thus far, I have been unable to find a single reported altercation involving in-flight mobile connectivity. That's because procedures are in place to ensure that altercations don't occur.
Various lawmakers and news agencies would like to scare us all into believing that in-flight mobile connectivity is unsafe; that Americans are unable to control themselves in-flight; and that mass hysteria will result if the in-flight mobile connectivity ban is lifted.
Now that's crazy!